Ghanaian women recommend changes to constitution

The four partner organisations behind We Know Politics II have completed regional consultations with 275 women on Ghana’s ongoing Constitutional Review Process to enable them to make the necessary inputs.

The partners are Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana), Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, The Hunger Project Ghana, and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Ghana)

A release issued by the four partners indicated that the extensive consultation process provided opportunities for women across all 10 regions of the country to make an input on how to improve the current constitution.

It said the consultation sessions, held as part of the We Know Politics II Project, which was designed to increase the role of women in governance, resulted in several recommendations and revealed a number of common concerns. The consultations also provided the opportunity to educate many of the women on the gender provisions in the Constitution and the review process itself.

According to the statement, the central theme that emerged out of the consultations was that the government of Ghana must do more to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Participants at the consultation sessions expressed the desire of ensuring that the government lived up to its obligations under international human rights instruments. To this end, it was recommended that, amendments be made to strengthen the constitution’s women’s rights; economic and cultural rights, and anti-discrimination provisions.

Recommendations put forth to strengthen the constitution’s protection of the rights of women included amending the constitution to require the state to: Establish a Commission on Gender Equality, eliminate social and cultural attitudes or conduct based on the supposed superiority of either sex, adopt a quota of at least 30 per cent representation of women in political and public office, eliminate discrimination against women in the fields of employment and education, and protect women’s health and reproductive rights. It was also recommended that a provision be added to specifically authorise temporary special measures to achieve de facto equality between the sexes.

According to the statement, the participants proposed that the constitution prohibits all customary, religious and other practices that discriminate against persons, not just
those that “dehumanise or are injurious to physical health and well-being”, as the present constitution states.

A further recommendation was that the constitution’s definition of discrimination be broadened to include distinctions made on the grounds of sex, age and disability – none of which are prohibited grounds of discrimination under the existing definition.

The national consultations also revealed a desire among participants for more inclusive, gender-neutral language. Accordingly, participants called on the government to replace references to ‘he’ with and ‘he or she,’ and ‘man’ with ‘man or woman’ or ‘person.’

The statement said the civil society organisations implementing the We Know Politics II Project trust that the Constitution Review Commission will take on board the participants’ insightful recommendations.

The partner organisations expressed their gratitude to all the women who participated in the consultations, indication that their input is essential to working towards a constitution that adequately protects and respects all citizens. Partner organisations also commend other women’s groups such as Network for Women’s Rights (NETRIGHT) for making similar submissions to the Constitution Review Commission.

Source: Daily Graphic

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